U.S. Senator Baldwin Co-Sponsors Bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act

Leahy & Sensenbrenner Legislation Ends Dragnet Collection of Phone Data and Adds Meaningful Oversight of Surveillance Programs

Washington DC - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today announced her support as an original co-sponsor of USA FREEDOM Act, bipartisan legislation that that seeks to restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records and requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chairman of the Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, introduced legislation on Tuesday.  

“Over ten years ago, I voted against the USA PATRIOT Act because I believed it would open the door to government overreach. Now I am proud to stand with Patrick Leahy, Jim Sensenbrenner and many of my other colleagues as an original cosponsor of the USA FREEDOM Act.” Baldwin said, “I believe that we must fight terrorism while also protecting our American freedoms. That is why I will continue working to ensure that our counter-terrorism efforts respect our Constitutional civil liberties. This bipartisan legislation works to ensure that we protect the freedoms of the American people.”

The USA FREEDOM Act would end the dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and ensure that other authorities cannot be used to justify similar dragnet collection. The bill also provides more safeguards for warrantless surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act.

“The government surveillance programs conducted under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act are far broader than the American people previously understood. It is time for serious and meaningful reforms so we can restore confidence in our intelligence community,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and author of the legislation. “Modest transparency and oversight provisions are not enough.  We need real reform, which is why I am happy to be joined today by Senator Baldwin and 15 other Senators from both parties in introducing the USA FREEDOM Act.”

The bill includes other significant privacy and oversight provisions, provides for the creation of a Special Advocate to focus on the protection of privacy rights and civil liberties before the FISA Court, and requires more detailed public reporting about the numbers and types of FISA orders that are issued.

The bill has 16 cosponsors in the Senate. In addition to Senator Baldwin, the legislation is supported by  Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dean Heller (R-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Begich (D-AL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). The measure also has more than 70 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and enjoys the diverse support of groups ranging from the National Rifle Association to the American Civil Liberties Union. A list of supporters can be found here.

An outline of the legislation can be found here, and text of legislation can be found online.

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